Carbon Footprint: Tools to calculate your impact

Day 68 – A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.

“The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons. To have the best chance of avoiding a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop under 2 tons by 2050.”The Nature Conservancy

Image borrowed from EchoTalk.org

By using a Carbon Footprint Calculator we can start figuring out how much greenhouse gas emissions we produce through our daily activities. Once we figure out where we are with our production of greenhouse gases, we can better understand how to reduce those emissions.

So what goes into calculating your carbon footprint? Information like how much electricity and natural gas your home uses in a year. What kind of car do you drive? Do you take public transportation? Even what kind of food and beverage you consume and the clothes you wear can affect your carbon footprint.

Earth911 recommends various Carbon Footprint Calculators. If you choose to use one, be sure to use the same one throughout your calculations. Jumping around from calculator to calculator will not be beneficial.

Carbon Footprint – This calculator is described as “extremely thorough”, which makes me a little apprehensive. It also uses British currency and measurements. So, conversions will be needed. I would rather not do extra math if I don’t have to.

World Wildlife Calculator – This is offered by the British division of the WWF. So, I’m guessing extra calculations would be needed to convert to U.S. currency and measurements. They do offer advice on reducing your carbon footprint available on their site.

CoolClimate Network – Created by the University of California Berkley, this calculator illustrates the breakdown of emissions across individual categories of activity.

Other sites mentioned:

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Carbon Footprint Calculator
  2. TerraPass Carbon Calculator
  3. The Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator

I’m going to start using the The Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator. I’ve chosen this calculator because I’m familiar with this organization. I really don’t know any specifics about the calculator, but will definitely update everyone on how it’s going. Please be sure to share how your carbon footprint calculator experience is going, too, if you choose to do it. I would love to know what kind of changes you have made to reduce your carbon footprint.

Tomorrow, be sure to pack your lunch.

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